Remembering: An invincible summer

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

— Albert Camus

I took this photo in the garden at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, somewhere around 2003.

Update for 11-10-13:

What jumps out at me about this post is its brevity (I was learning to use WordPress as I went along) and the absence of readers’ comments or “likes,” except one from Boomdeeadda, who has been with me from the very early days, and whose blog was one of the first I visited. What a happy introduction to the blogosphere that was!  (You can see the original post here.)

I hope this post has more viewers today than it did one year ago, but whether few or many see it, I hope it will add a note of cheer to whoever visits this site today!  I will add information about yesterday’s winners later this afternoon, after the drawings.


  1. merry

    Julia, good morning .Hope had a wonderful party! I was out town. Use my smartphone to post. Later discovered my post was lost in cyber space! My laptop has pick up a virus…uggg~/ I finally was able to post but briefly. I enjoy reviewing the past year’s blogs. And hope to see you in UR. Blessings.

    • Merry, thanks so much for getting here however you could and despite a failed attempt! I am happy you made it here. I very much hope to make it over to Upper Room again soon. I miss everyone there, please tell them all I said hello! I appreciate your taking the time and trouble to be here!

  2. Raynard

    When I see the words “Golden Gate, it reminded me of when I flew from Hawaii to San Francisco. I seen the Golden Gate Bridge( Can I start Singing “Rice a Roni “The San Francisco treat lol) Your Picture reminded of The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens where I use to visit growing up in Brooklyn NY.( It was close to my grade school walking distance next to Prospect Park….Now some more history for you. I attended the same H.S as Barbera Streisand Erasmus Hall ( not the same time she graduated in 1966 the teachers were so proud to tell you) We one time during music class as our teacher came in the class, all sang “Pink Floyd’s song The wall ( First verse’We don’t need no education” lol). Remember that old saying”Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’? To me God is the beholder and not just we all are beautifully made but have his vision to see the beauty and create what’s he’s put in us for others to see and be blessed( like your blogs).

    • Raynard, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge from an airplane must be unforgettable! I can’t remember ever seeing it since we tended to fly in and out of Sacramento because it was just so much easier than fighting that East Bay traffic. (We lived about halfway between the two.) Wow, how cool that you went to that school in Brooklyn; it seems like I have heard of other famous people who went to her school. I had a friend who did volunteer teaching in East New York in the 70’s, but the school she taught at had just a number, not a name, or at least they called it by a number – PS something or other. She lived on Dumont Street and I spent the weekend with her there in 1974; that was quite an experience to say the least. I got $40 stolen from me which was a lot of money in those days, but we had a great time anyway and I got to see The Wiz from a “standing room only” cheap ticket I got at the Tix booth in Times Square. It’s so funny you should mention “The Wall,” I was actually singing that song to myself yesterday – although maybe not that funny since I admit I sing it fairly often, for some reason it has always cracked me up. I wish I could have been there for the shouting part: “Hey! TEACHER! Leave them kids alone!!” 🙂 I always sing it in a very thick fake cockney accent just to get into the spirit of it. Yes! we should all try to see the world through the eyes of God’s love. We can never get there 100% but we can do a good bit better than we do most of the time. Thanks for being here!

  3. Mariam Slaughter

    Hi Julia,

    I first met you, Jeff and Matt at the home of my sister and brother-in-law, Janice and Ben Barker and I liked you from “hello”. I so appreciated the love and friendship you all shared with Janice and Ben and this certainly made it a little easier for me living 700 miles away.

    Your blog has become a part of my day and I always look forward to opening my email and seeing what you have posted. I have been amazed that you have been able to write the blog on a daily basis and often wondered how you possibly found the time unless you just decided sleep was not essential! Due to the busyness of my day I seldom go to the blog itself because I knew I would want to see all the comments and your replies; but I do want you to know now how very much I appreciate you, Jeff and Matt. We will continue to include you all in our prayers.

    Blessing to you.

    Mariam Slaughter

    • Thanks so much Mariam, I didn’t realize you were reading the blog – that makes me feel happy! We still miss Ben and Janice so much. It is nice to hear from Janice occasionally on Facebook and by email. I hope she will come visit us sometime. Getting the news on Christmas Eve 2010 from Ben about his cancer diagnosis was the beginning of a very long run of unhappy events and deep sorrow for us. You may know about some of the other things that happened (Janice certainly does). Sitting here nearly three years later, many of the blessings we enjoyed up until then feel as if they are now light years away. In my mind, I look back and that Christmas Eve was the day everything began to change. Ben and Janice were such strong examples to us all during that time, but I know I always felt a bit better when you were there with them and really appreciated all the time you spent coming and staying with them so frequently during those days, weeks and months. If you had told me exactly three years ago today all of the things that have happened in the past 3 years, I would have said “we can never survive all that” yet here we are. I have often wanted to post photos from their lovely home and the many happy hours so many of us shared there. So far I have not managed to do it, but perhaps at Easter I will post the video of all the kids running around hunting eggs while Ben watched from the house. I also have some photos from his service at Arlington. Jeff plans to be buried there but we hope it will not be for many years. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the blog and post here. I am honored to have you visit.

  4. Ann

    Beautiful photo! Wish something was in bloom now.

    Thanks for the posting.

    • Thanks Ann! I just posted a short video of the drawing (or at least the beginning of it) which we filmed in front of our bloom-again azaleas which decided to go all out this year, also our camellias which are just now starting their blooming season. Wish you could be here to see them, but maybe you can enjoy them in the very short video! Thanks for looking back to one year ago today with us!

  5. Reminds me of the dahlia garden I used to have. It’s lovely!

    • Thanks Denise, I love dahlias. I had great luck with them in California, but haven’t been able to get them to grow for me anywhere else. I did have some splendid zinnias this year (which for some reason I tend to link to dahlias in my mind) but I don’t know whether that was a happy accident or the result of a good match with the setting I planted them in. We’ll find out next year. I just love the vivid colors! Thanks for stopping by today.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, November 10, 2012 was a rather difficult time frame for me. It was days from the 1 year mark of my precious 90 year old Mom’s death, and I was recalling so many things. I did come to read Defeat Despair by way of the Upper Room. She started every day with the Upper Room, her Bible, a cup of coffee and 2 cookies. She had a wonderful life, was sick very little, loved ACC basketball, country music, and NASCAR racing! It actually feels wonderful to remember her and share her memory here. Thank you! 🙂 Sheila

    • Sheila, I had no idea you found us at what everyone describes as a difficult time (the anniversary of a loved one’s death, especially that first year). How wonderful that your mother lived 90 years surrounded by so many joys! I am sure her joie de vivre lives on in her daughter. Thanks so much for sharing her story with us here.

  7. Raynard

    more memories.. Flying down the NJ Turnpike on a Army Helicopter, Seeing “The Wall over in Germany before it came down, Coming back from Germany and looking out the window as you arrive @ JFK and see”The Lady ( Statue of Liberty). Almost clicked my heals and “kissed the ground lol. Last while flying over to Iraq, The pilot said” to our right will be “The Nile River” awesome view… Did I tell you about the time I flew on a C-5 out of Dover Air Force Base? It’s a long climb to the top of the stairs and I miss going to air shows@ McGuire AFB in NJ..( Now I miss Hickham AFB in Hawaii) Aloha Bookem Dano lol

    • While we lived in Hawaii we took a hop on a C-5 (I think that’s what it was) – a huge plane with those backwards seats like on all the military planes. But no windows that I remember. We took the medivac from there to the mainland when Matt had his second open heart surgery and that was a very nice flight, probably the most space we have ever had on an airplane of any kind. You have had some pretty memorable sights. I bet the Nile looked longer than the old Mississippi. The Statue of Liberty is always a thrilling sight for me even from the ground (watch for her photo in a re-run post this week that is one of my favorites). I’ll never forget the first time my parents took me to NYC – we flew into LaGuardia airport and when we broke through the clouds in an instant I saw the skyscrapers of Manhattan rising out of the water like a giant iceberg. Love at first sight!

  8. Awww, thank you for those kind words Julia. I guess this means we’re both another year older, LOL What a perfectly lovely way to go thru life; admiring gardens and chatting with friends. I can’t imagine why the hubby and I didn’t get to this garden. We went across the bridge several times hoping for the perfect photo op but it was almost always foggy. There’s so much to do in San Francisco, I’ll have to visit again…and again 😀 Loving the colour of those giant Dahlias. I’ve grew them once with little success. It wasn’t a sunny enough spot. My girlfriend plants them yearly and they’re always a great late season show. Maybe I’ll try again.

    • I have no idea whether the garden still looks like that, but I feel sure there is something equally lovely there. At the time this photo was taken, the gorgeous Victorian-style conservatory had just recently re-opened after a lengthy restoration and I’m sure they went all out to make everything extra spiffy. It was that day at the garden that I saw only the second purebred Schipperke other than Pasha that I have ever seen in person (the other one being someplace outside the USA; in the Caribbean I think) and enjoyed talking with the dog’s human caretaker about the unique traits of the breed. Those dahlias are indeed fabulous! During our years in northern California I had a super-talented friend who was named Dahlia and every time I see that flower I think of her. Her hubby was an orthodontist in the Air Force with Jeff (they went through their residencies together in Texas and moved to NorCal when we did) and he did Matt’s orthodontic care after his orthognathic surgery in 1999. I’ll have to try again with Dahlias myself. The colors are dazzling.

      • The BEST ones I’ve ever seen were in Salzburg. The gazebo that was in The Sound Of Music has been placed in a public park and is surrounded by Dahlia’s taller than me. While I am a bit of a shrimp, that’s a giant flower. I think it’s a fabulous name too, how lucky for your friend Dahlia 😀

        • Wow, I don’t think they had that set-up when I was in Salzburg in 1972. Of course, that was in late November, so maybe it was just not in bloom then. I do remember seeing the scene with the statues and getting a big bang out of recognizing it from the movie. Dahlia was one of the coolest people I ever knew. She grew up on a kibbutz in Israel where her parents still lived. She knew how to grow, make or design almost anything and although everything she did was *perfect* or seemed so, she was one of the most laid back and encouraging people I ever knew. She was trying to help me make a scrapbook page one day and I couldn’t get the hang of using the cutting tool, and “ruined” the photo by cutting a slit in it. She just laughed and said “go ahead and use the photo, now you have a funny story to go with it!” I thought, I need to hang around this lady more often! I have never forgotten her wisdom.

          • Sounds like my kind of gal. Although I struggle on a daily basis, I’d like to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ and focus on the ‘Big picture’ “D

            • Yes, it’s so important to do that just to stay sane nowadays.


  1. The envelope, please | Defeat Despair

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